Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Google releases new Chrome extension for Google Voice and it rocks

On yesterday, Google announced the official release of a new extension for their Chrome browser aimed at making accessing content in your Google Voice account easier. The extension, which requires the latest version of Google Chrome in order to work, makes interacting with your Google Voice number incredibly simple and puts just about everything right in the browser. It also supports 'click to call' functionality that works similarly to the way Skype's Firefox extension does.

Since the introduction of Voice, Google has proven that it takes telephony very seriously and that the company intends to compete in the space very aggressively. Voice boast free calls to any number in the United States, unlimited incoming and outgoing SMS messaging, and a host of other features like call hunt that make this service an absolute necessity for anyone who uses a phone for more than basic calling.

Until now, the only annoyance I could find with Voice was why I had to visit my inbox to send and receive messages, listen to voicemail, or even check how many messages I had. While I long for the day when Google integrates this functionality into Google Talk, this extension is an impressive and needed step in the right direction.

Using the Google Voice extension, you can:

  • Send SMS messages and make calls without having to go to your Inbox

  • See how many messages you have waiting and read voicemail transcripts

  • Click on any phone number in a web page and call that number

  • Listen to your voicemail without going to your inbox (coming soon)

While I'm often critical of software makers, I have to say that Google certainly has a way of getting things right. The company knows what is useful, fun, and cool, and knows exactly how to package it in an attractive package then go about making it even better quickly. Google Voice is no exception to this and I look forward to what Google has planned for this young product.

If you don't have a Google Voice number yet, go to http://voice.google.com and sign up for an invite. Alternately, if you have a friend who's a member of Google Voice, you can ask that they send you an invite which might be a little faster than waiting on one from the company. But, whatever you do, get yourself on Google voice and start taking advantage of one of the most advanced calling platforms on the planet.

Once you go Google, you never go back.

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